Hallman Lecture: Loot boxes: Video game gambling, paying to win, and the question of game design

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Dr. Mark Johnson and Dr. Tom Brock present their research on consumable virtual items purchased within video games and the debate around the effects of these "loot boxes". Do they risk creating a new generation of problem gamblers or are they lowering the threshold of gambling by integrating 'games of chance' into otherwise skill-based gaming experiences?

Hosted by the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department, supported by the Hallman Foundation:

Profile photo of Dr. Mark Johnson


  • Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta
  • Research focus: the intersections between play and money
  • Published in many academic journals including, "Information, Communication and Society", "The Sociological Review", "Convergence", and "Games and Culture", and his first book, "The Unpredictability of Gameplay", is due out in late 2018 from Bloomsbury Academic
Profile photo of Dr. Tom Brock


  • Senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Research interests: video games, social theory, digital cultures and political protest
  • Co-author of the book, “Structure, Culture, Agency: Selected Paper of Margaret Archer” (Routledge)

In their talk titled "Loot Boxes: Video Game Gambling, Paying to Win, and the Question of Game Design", Drs. Johnson and Brock introduce their research on the implementation of loot boxes within video games by integrating opinions of game designers into popular debates on the subject. Based on their data and findings this far, they will continue to outline the potential directions for further investigation into loot box implementation, effects, and impacts on both policy and regulation, and video game players themselves.


1:30 - 2:30 P.M. Lecture

2:30 - 3:30 P.M. Reception